All about Arizona’s new Supreme Court justice

James Beene, 54, a judge on the state Court of Appeals, will replace John Pelander, who retired earlier this year

By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services via Arizona Daily Str

Gov. Doug Ducey selected an appellate court judge to fill a vacancy on the Arizona Supreme Court, passing on the chance to appoint the first black Hispanic woman as a justice.

James Beene, 54, a judge on the state Court of Appeals, will replace John Pelander, who retired earlier this year. Beene earned his law degree from the University of Arizona.

With the latest appointment, Ducey has named four of the seven justices on the court, including for the two additional seats the Republican-controlled Legislature gave him to fill. And the governor will get another pick later this year with the retirement of Scott Bales, the last remaining Democrat on the court.

Beene, a Republican, was chosen over fellow Republicans Richard Gordon, a judge on the Pima County Superior Court, and appellate Judge Kent Cattani.

The appointment commission also nominated two Democrats: Maria Elena Cruz, who is also an appellate court judge, and Andrew Jacobs, an attorney in private practice.

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